In 1876 she arrived in San Francisco with four teaching sisters and two novices and asked the archbishop for permission to start her own order. The archbishop refused, so, in the wee hours of July 14, 1877, Mother Dolores slipped out of the convent, leaving a note for the other nuns that she was taking an early train, the Lightening Express back to Kentucky.
The other sisters found the note, raced to the station and boarded the train with Mother Dolores. They made it as far as Reno, Nevada, where they all left the train because one sister had become ill. Mother Dolores sought out the local bishop. Would he support her new order of sisters? He was interested, but first he wrote the archbishop of San Francisco, for Canon Law required his permission. “I shall give her to you as a present,” was the most gracious response from the archbishop.
Mother Dolores was nobody’s present. According to a manuscript in the Dominican archives, she was “continually in trouble with the priests and the bishop.” The winner was Reno, which gained a new school, Mount Saint Mary’s Academy, and a hospital, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, which is still operating today.
Sisters: Catholic Nuns and the Making of America—John J. Fialka.
St. Martin’s Press. New York, NY. 2003
Those who wish to read more about these incredible women and their gift of service to the church and the world can do so in John’s book, which you can order from Amazon.com or receive directly from SOAR! for a donation of $50. This donation will support retired religious sisters and brothers through the work of SOAR! To receive the book for your donation, please contact Danielle Bell directly by email or by phone at 202.529.7627.